A few days ago, I came across a Swedish opinion piece concerning the UN Hammarskjold investigation, written by Tord Andersson; in which he says the “UD [Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs] already decided when the information reaches them not to demand a new investigation”, referring to an “email” published in DN (Dagens Nyheter) “where [UN] Swedish Ambassador receives orders to lie low and wait for the other States’ reactions [to the investigation].” Andersson asks “Why is no one responding?”
I wanted to see the DN article he was referring to, so I wrote to Andersson for the link, and he was kind to send it on to me, and to include the correction that “the reporter refers to internal UD-documents, not email”.
The article, “Sweden’s silence on new evidence amazes outside world”, written by Jens Littorin, reports that DN requested UD documents from the past year, from the time Carl Bildt was Minister of Foreign Affairs, and that these documents suggest that Sweden’s “silence” on the Hammarskjold investigation has been intentional.
From the DN article:
“A few weeks after the Commission presented its [September 2013] report…Swedish Ambassador Marten Grunditz [was given] instructions on the Swedish line from the UD’s management.”
The following are the “instructions” to Ambassador Grunditz, the 18 September 2013 UD document Andersson refers to, in the original Swedish, which Andersson says “lie low and wait for the other States’ reactions”:
“Vi avaktar hur man i FN-sekretariatet och i medlemskretsen staller sig till uppfoljning av rapporten. Om du hor nagra sadana tankar ar vi darfor intresserade av att ta del av dem. Dock utan att fran var sida driva fragan om en uppfoljning.” (DN’s kursivering)
I know I am missing the subtleties of the language, because I don’t speak Swedish, and this is what it says with Google Translate:
“We await how the UN Secretariat and the member agrees to the circuit response. If you hear any such thoughts, we are therefore interested in taking part of them. target but from our side push for a follow up. (DN’s emphasis)”
I did contact Journalist Jens Littorin to see if I could get help with a translation – to better understand the document emphasized, and to confirm the information I had, but there has been no response yet.
Also from the DN article – In February 2014, after S-G Ban Ki-moon’s official request that the investigation be included on the agenda of the 69th UN General Assembly, reporting to the UD on this new information, Ambassador Grunditz wrote that “if no Member States picks up the ball and seems to push, asking for a debate or put forward a draft resolution in the General Assembly, then the matter will probably stop after the Hammarskjold report has been circulated to the membership circle.”
“But the realization of the risks of inaction did not alter Sweden’s stance” writes Littorin, concluding that “It is now clear that Sweden has neither been pushing for a new UN investigation or taken a position on which line [it] should advocate.”
As I wrote in my previous post, a date has now been set for the morning of December 15, 2014 – Agenda Item 128 – to discuss the investigation into the death of Hammarskjold at the General Assembly. Charlotta Ozaki Macias, Head of Communications for the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD), “confirms [to DN] that Sweden, despite this [has] still not taken a position”, stating that “We want to wait and see what the other members say.”
When Macias was asked by Littorin if it was not “strange that Sweden was not more active in this matter”, when a “Swedish UN Secretary General and eight other Swedish citizens died in the plane crash”, she replied “We have had two inquiries and we have acted more than other countries”, and that she “explain[ed] that Sweden helped keep the issue alive by demanding that it should be moved to the current session”.
After thinking about this information, I am left with more questions than answers. Is it more than just the opinion of Andersson, or did UD leadership really advise Ambassador Grunditz to “lie low and wait” about the Hammarskjold investigation? And, if that is true, why? Why does Sweden wait, when Macias says “we have had two inquiries and we acted more than other countries” and “that Sweden helped keep the issue alive by demanding that it should be moved to the current session”? After all Sweden has done, now that there’s new evidence and it’s finally made it to the current session – by Sweden’s demand, why does it wait to take a position, to cross that threshold? Is it because they don’t want to bother anyone further? Or does Sweden not want to be bothered? Will they only stand up if there is interest from other member states, and only then? Or will they stand up at the last minute, if no one else will? Or will they not stand up at all? What does this silence communicate to the other member states?
I would like to mention here how very impressed I am with the new Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström, who just assumed office on October 3, and I have great hopes she will give her support to this investigation. Only days after she took office, in response to criticism from the US on Stockholm’s recent decision to recognize Palestine as a state, Wallström said “It’s not the US that decides our politics” and that she expects to “get criticism”. We need that kind of spirit for forward motion to be made.
*Update 20 October 2014
Here is an English translation of the UD document from 18 September 2013, which Dagens Nyheter journalist Jens Littorin was very generous to contribute:
“We sit back and see how the UN-(office?) and the member states react to the report. If you hear any such thoughts it would be interesting if you could share them with us. BUT WITHOUT FROM OUR SIDE PUSHING THE QUESTION ABOUT A FOLLOW UP ON THE REPORT.”
I can understand now why that last sentence was emphasized.
Obviously – and unfortunately, it is not only Sweden that shows reluctance to stand up for Hammarskjold – so far, not a single member state has taken the initiative. From what I understand, if no one will take up this issue, Agenda Item 128 is considered only penciled in, and we won’t hear a word about this investigation on December 15 – that will be the end of it.
I hope the member states will consider this information, and take courage to do the right thing, in spite of whatever political interests might pressure them to do otherwise. It is not too late to stand up!